The Art of Teaching Spiritual Discernment: A Listening Hearts Lenten Retreat

The Beecken Center of the School of Theology is partnering with Listening Hearts Ministries to offer this intensive, four-day retreat to train participants in the art of facilitating and mentoring spiritual discernment groups using the Listening Hearts approach. Held at the DuBose Conference Center in Monteagle, Tennessee, the retreat will include communal meditation activities; workshops that teach the practical aspects of teaching spiritual discernment; and a series of discernment sessions, each of which is followed by a reflective review to gain insight into the elements that bring forth fruitful discernment.

The program has an “at home” component: for five weeks prior to the retreat (the weeks of Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24, and March 3) participants will reflect on short readings, engage in creative meditation exercises, and share reflections and a short biographical write-up with their group on line. The assignments will require an average of two hours of work a week, which can usually be broken into several sections. In the final week each participant will prepare a one-page summary of an issue with which they are wrestling.

Clergy, laypersons, and professionals of all faiths (or none!) are welcome to attend!

Tuition: $750
Includes five weeks of at-home preparation (about two hours of work a week during the weeks of Feb. 3, 10, 17, 24, and March 3).

Lodging not included. Lodging reservations may be made directly with the DuBose Conference Center using this form.

Registration closes Jan. 23, 2019.

This retreat is geared to spiritually mature leaders of all ages who are committed to the principles set forth in Listening Hearts. It affords each participant the opportunity to enter into discernment in relation to his or her own life while also learning to train and mentor discernment groups. Participants will work in small groups, each with its own mentor. Silence, song, imaginative engagement with Scripture, creative meditation activities, and contemplative sharing of reflections combine to draw each group into the flow of the Spirit. The training includes a series of discernment sessions, each followed by a reflective review to gain insight into what contributes to fruitful discernment in community. Workshops lay out the practical aspects of training discerners.

Texts & Supplies

For the at-home portion prior to the residential retreat, participants will need to purchase the following:

This Listening Hearts retreat can count as Alternate Mentor Training for Education for Ministry (EfM) mentors. Requirements for Alternate Mentor Training include having completed two Foundations Trainings, being "Formation ready," not having completed another Alternate Training within the last three trainings, and not needing to go back to Foundations after three Formations. Contact Elsa Bakkum, EfM Associate Director for Training, at for Alternate Training credit.


Suzanne Farnham is the founder of Listening Hearts Ministries, co-author of the Listening Hearts series of books, and serves on the Listening Hearts board of trustees. She has been leading Listening Hearts programs across the United States for more than thirty years.

Frances Sullinger was trained in Listening Hearts discernment in 1990, then as a trainer in 2001, and is an active Listening Hearts trustee. Frances took a lead in developing the Community Discernment of Calls to Ministry program and is active in the church at both the parish and diocesan levels. Her background includes teaching at the university level and serving as a Foreign Service officer with the State Department. She resides in Centreville, VA.

Stephanie Hull was trained as a Listening Hearts trainer in 1990 and is a co-author of Grounded in God: Listening Hearts Discernment for Group Deliberations. She has extensive experience leading Listening Hearts programs. Stephanie has been active in parish and diocesan affairs including leadership positions as senior warden of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD, and chair of the Claggett Committee in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. She has been a mentor in the Education for Ministry (EfM) program for more than twenty years and lives in Baltimore.

Barbara Cates was part of the original team of researchers behind Listening Hearts: Discerning Call in Community, and trained as a discerner in 1997. She is a retired Foreign Service officer who has served at posts all over the world. She is a leader of Taizé services at Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD and is a deacon and choir member at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, also in Baltimore. She completed Education for Ministry in the 1990s, and driven by a desire to go more deeply into the New Testament, recently repeated the second and third years of the program.


Registration closes Jan. 23, 2019.

Having trouble with this form? Register here. Meals & lodging are not included with tuition and must be arranged directly with the DuBose Conference Center using this form.

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